When the group draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup was finalized, pundits everywhere declared the United States’ Group G as the so-called “Group of Death.” However, Group D, featuring Giancarlo Gonzalez and Waylon Francis’ Costa Rican side, might turn out to be the most contested—as well as the group with the most Crew connections.
Gonzalez and Francis are set to face Italy, England and Agustin Viana’s Uruguay, fresh off of a strong run at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, as well as the 2011 Copa America championship.
“When you see that group with Italy and England, it’s a hard group,” said Viana. “You know also about Costa Rica because I have teammates playing there, and you know that there is potential there, it’s not easy. It’s a hard group, but you’re playing in the World Cup. Other groups are also difficult. It’s exciting to play against Italy and England. Those are good teams to know where you are.”
The Chicago-born Viana has previously represented Uruguay at the U-20 level, and maintains an ardent passion for the country of his heritage. Making this World Cup even more special for the Crew midfielder is the fact that his home nation is slated to face two of his teammates, with a third, Jairo Arrieta, supporting Costa Rica as well. Although Viana says that he will be rooting for Uruguay, he made sure to wish his teammates well before they headed to Brazil.
“I joked with Giancarlo and Waylon before they left here,” said Viana. “We were sending messages after the friendly matches. I am really happy that Pipo is playing a World Cup, the most important thing a soccer player can play. It’s obviously really emotional for him and us all…it’s important for him.”
With a group so difficult and wide-open, Viana expects Uruguay’s opener to go a long way in determining if it can advance to the knockout stages. He also expects Costa Rica to play a defend-and-counter against Uruguay, which he says makes the challenge tougher given the way Uruguay plays.
“I think that it’s a hard group,” said Viana. “I think it’s really important in the first match against Costa Rica. If you can win those three points, with four or five points you can get out of the group.”